Even if you don't know what "lifecycle marketing" is, you're probably doing it in some form or fashion. Lifecycle marketing is simply a form of "marketing" that you use to help your customers as their needs change. Luckily, lifecycle marketing isn't hard, but a lot of web and mobile app companies get it wrong. So how do you do it the "right" way? How do you use lifecycle marketing to grow your business without bugging the heck out of your customers?
Luckily, we asked Lincoln Murphy (who I call the "SaaS Whisperer") how app companies can get better results from the messages they send to their users. All I have to say is...you're going to want to take notes. Read on to learn more about the exact lifecycle marketing messages you can send your users, when to send them, and the thought process you need to truly convert customers into loyal (paying) fans with your messages.
If an app business had to send just three lifecycle marketing messages to their users and customers, which messages should they be and why?
I have to preface my answer with this: Don’t just contact prospects, customers, and users three times. Contact them often; in fact, I suggest being a bit more aggressive than you’re comfortable with initially (you can always throttle-back later). As long as you’re providing value - and you should ALWAYS be providing value - you’ll be just fine (spam perception-wise). But, if you aren’t being positively aggressive, you’ll very likely miss out on opportunities. That said, here are three events that I think are very important and warrant a message - all of these are using my "Customer Success Bot” method (PDF) BTW - but these are just 3… not the only three!
Send an Email, Text, or Push Message to New Trial Users
Right after they sign-up for your trial, to let them know you’re there if they need you (during a trial most people think they aren’t eligible for support)… and to start a conversation (by ending the brief message with an open-ended question) Psssttt...Here's 15 User Onboarding Hacks with Email, SMS, and Push
Send an Email, Text, or Push Message to Ask New Customers About Their Goals
Right after conversion to paid, reach out and ask them what their goal is; what do they wish to achieve with your product. What does “success” mean to them?
Send an Email, Text, or Push Message to Users That Don't Convert
Why didn’t you buy? (3 days after trial expires or immediately after they opt-out of a Free Trial before it converts) … prospects that don’t convert are taking a ton of intel with them when they leave… try to get some of that. Need more ideas on how to text your users, here's 8 Ways You Can Use Text Messages to Talk to Your Customers
How would you use email, text messages, and push notifications to meet goals?
The goals I would try to reach are those of my customers, not my goals. That’s a critical distinction that must be made. The secret, of course, is that if our goal is growth, higher customer lifetime value, etc. making sure our customers are successful is a great way to reach our goals! You then use the different messaging channels to drive your customers toward success. Consider what the next logical step is for them based on where they’re currently at, and use the appropriate message medium to move them along the path to success. If you know that your customer defines success with your hypothetical ad management platform as having increased efficiency of ad spend - getting better results for the same amount of money, basically - then success is not achieved for them by simply placing another ad. Do you see the distinction? Functional use of the product - placing an ad - is not the same as achieving success. So how do you move them toward success? How can you help them reach the goal of not just placing ads, but getting better results? Figure that out and use the appropriate channel to make that happen.. and you win. Too many SaaS companies stop at functional completion… and then wonder why customers who are using their product a lot suddenly churn out. But they were successful! Clearly, they weren’t.
What do you think most SaaS companies get wrong when messaging their users?
There are two main things I see SaaS companies doing wrong in their messaging: 1. They create dead ends - A “dead end” is anytime you tell a user something – a status update or a metric – but don’t tell them what to do next to improve or capitalize on what you told them. Whether it’s good news or bad, don’t just tell them something happened… tell them what to do with the information you’re giving them so they can improve their position… even if their position is good. 2. Not understanding customer goals and driving toward those - this is going to be a theme here, but it’s true. Most of the time SaaS vendors try to drive toward their goals for their customers rather than helping the customers along a path toward success. More on this everywhere else in my answers. :-)
When is an email, text message, or push notification not enough to reach your user, when should you just pick up the phone and talk to your users?
It depends… if those other modalities aren’t doing the trick, you have to take a step back and look at things objectively. Is it the medium that you’re using or the message itself? It’s easy to say those aren’t working, let’s pick up the phone and call (which, in my experience is almost never the next logical step… stopping all communication is what most people want to do), when it might not be that they’re not good channels… but that your implementation therein failed to produce results. It comes down - like most things - to really understanding your customers and their users. For instance, you need to know how they like to be communicated with - the medium - and what they’re trying to achieve with your product - the goal. Now how can you use their preferred medium to help them achieve their goal. Notice, I said “achieve their goal” not just “use your product.” [gravityform id="6" name="blog" title="false" description="false"]Use that preferred medium to also send helpful tips and tricks and thought leadership and tools and links to them that will help them be successful, not just in using your product, but in achieving their goals. If they start seeing that channel and the messages from you that come across that channel as being high-value and super-helpful… then you’re golden. If they see the messages coming across that medium as only about you and your product - especially if they aren’t really engaged yet or you have a fragile relationship with them (perhaps they’re early in a Free Trial), then they may just opt-out of your messages (or even your app) and you’ll lose ‘em forever. That said, if a phone call is the most appropriate option - both from your point of view AND the customer’s - then pick up the phone and call. Some industries, this is expected and wanted. Some markets this is a non-starter. Know your customer.
What stage of the user lifecycle do you think web and mobile app companies should talk to users the most?
I like to front-load communication, especially during the Free Trial or - if they “buy now” then during the initial on-boarding / engagement process. And just like before, I suggest starting out more aggressive (in a positive way) than you feel comfortable with and throttling back from there if necessary. That said, your communication level should be congruent with the expectations, requirements, interest of your customers. There’s some psychology at play here that says people like to do things that are congruent with actions they’ve already taken. So if someone downloads a whitepaper, get them to sign-up for a webinar.If they come to the webinar, get them to download a case study. If they download a case study, get them to watch a demo of the product. If they watch a demo, get them to start a Free Trial. If they start the Free Trial, get them to take certain actions so they get to a point where becoming a paying customer is the most logical next step. When they reach that step, make them an offer to convert to a paying customer.
About Lincoln Murphy
Lincoln Murphy is Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight and is driving thought-leadership in the areas of Customer Success Management, customer retention, churn mitigation, and expansion revenue. Since 2008, as Managing Director of Sixteen Ventures, Lincoln has helped 300+ SaaS companies rapidly improve customer acquisition and retention to create efficient engines of growth.
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